I’ve often griped about things behind the paywall of major publishers. Case in point, I just put a line in a grant request for a year’s access to Brill’s New Jacoby: a new necessity for historiographical research that I can’t access via ILL. And even at an outrageous cost it is still has significant weaknesses. Anyway, I was pleased and intrigued to learn about this new approach from this blog:
which includes this sub-project:
This is a great move forward for access and maybe even for interface, but how will it move us forward in terms of new scholarship? Will those outside the research one institutions be forever stuck behind the ultimate paywall of the 70 year public domain for esoteric digital resources?
The dirty little secret of the academy is illegally digitized books. I’ve check the pirated sites that have a richness of academic titles. My first book has been pirated. Dozens perhaps dozens of dozens of individuals are now reading it on bad scans rather than checking it out from the library or may one or two of them buying it. Gotta say. I don’t really mind. It is dreadfully expensive. Even at a 40 percent author’s discount I didn’t buy many copies, just enough for my tenure file. I certainly don’t have a spare copy!
At least the print nature of a book makes it more able to A) be legally borrowed from a library or B) pirated. Databases like the BNJ are because of pricing and the high degree of specialization of their subject matter to only a few wealthy institutions which are willing to pay for access for their members.
So for now I’ll cheer on LOFTS and its ilk. (While groaning at yet another acronym!) And, I’ll twiddle my thumbs hoping that my wee little grant is approved so that come next July 1st, I too might have the privilege of accessing the BNJ.